South African Cultural Observatory

Mapping the Economic Value of the Creative Industry

BY 29.06.20

In many countries, the growing importance of the cultural and creative industries is increasingly being recognised. The SA Cultural Observatory recently released its second Economic Mapping of the Cultural and Creative Industries in South Africa 2020 (Economic Mapping Study). The report follows the 2018 Economic Mapping Study which showed that the industry contributed R63 billion (1.5%) to the South African GDP. The 2020 study assesses the impact of the creative economy in the South African economy by looking at how the cultural and creative industries (CCIs) contribute to the economy of South Africa in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and GDP growth, employment and transformation, and international trade.

A variety of methods and data were sourced to track the CCIs in South Africa. The study contains three main reports- the Macroeconomic Impact of the CCIs (Report 1), Cultural Employment (Report 2) and International Trade in Cultural Goods (Report 3). The key objective of Report 1 was to measure the percentage value contribution of the sector to GDP. The results show that the direct impact (also called “Value Added”) of the CCIs in 2018 was R74.39 billion, equivalent to 1.7% of South Africa’s GDP (compared to 1.5% in 2016). The report also found that the GDP contribution of the CCIs has grown at an average rate of 2.4% per year between 2016 - 2018, compared to the whole South African economy, which grew at only 1.1% per year in this period.

Report 2 used labour market survey data to analyse the size and characteristics of employment in the cultural and creative industries in South Africa. Creative economy employment accounted for 7% of all the jobs in South Africa in 2017. This means that 1.14 million jobs in South Africa were directly related in some way to cultural and creative activities.

Report 3 trade data is based on the physical characteristics of the traded goods, which does not provide information on trade in services and digitised cultural goods. Cultural goods trade data shows a deficit in cultural goods trade in 2018: South Africa’s cultural goods exports were valued at US$ 446.5 million and cultural goods imports at US$ 469.8 million.

Despite this deficit the value of cultural goods exports has been growing faster than the exports of other goods. SA’s cultural goods exports grew at 14.6% per year between 2015-2018, making up 0.47% of SA’s total commodity exports in 2018 (up from 0.37% in 2015). SA’s cultural goods imports have fallen dramatically since 2012, making up 0.50% of SA’s total commodity imports in 2018 (down from 0.6% in 2015).

The cultural sector has always been acknowledged in contributing to important non-market goals, such as fostering identity formation through heritage, building social cohesion, as an important part of education, and for the intrinsic values of delight, contradiction, enjoyment and debate. The increasing size and faster growth rate of the cultural economy justifies its inclusion as a focus area in the “Reimagined Industrial Strategy” being developed by the Department of Trade and Industry.

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